Monday, 16 March 2020

The Art Of Bob Larkin

Back in the 70s, as an avid reader of Starburst, I saw an ad for a film called Shockwaves and the image - drowned Nazi zombies - was incredibly striking.  I saw the film, many years later and whilst it didn’t (in true exploitation art terms) quite live up to the promise of the poster, it certainly had its moments.  As part of my research, I discovered that the man who drew it also created the poster art for Kingdom Of The Spiders (which I wrote about here), the cover of Marvel’s adapation of The Empire Strikes Back and the poster for Joe Dante’s excellent Piranha (which I covered here).

So here’s a celebration of Bob Larkin and his artwork.
1974 - 1st issue of the comic published in the UK
1977 - film poster
1977 - film poster
1978 - comic
1978 - film poster
1978 - comic collectors edition (one of two variant covers)
1980 - Marvel cover (also used on the annual)
1980 - the UK title of "Humanoids From The Deep"
1980 - comic (is it just me, or does Dracula here look like George Hamilton?)
1984 - paperback
1986 - UK quad poster
1988 - paperback
2015 - trading card
c.1970s - The Universal Monsters
Bob Larkin was on July 10th 1949 and attended High School with the son of Bantam Art Director Len Leone, from 1964 to 1967.  Larkin showed Leone some of his artwork and was told, “Down the road, if you get really good at it, I will hire you.”
Bob Larkin with his son Ken in 1979
Bob was a big fan of the Doc Savage series as he grew up and Leone was instrumental in Bantam reprinting the books and making it a success.  The original cover artwork was created by James Bama and when he decided to move on, he handpicked Bob as his successor.  This began a long and fruitful collaboration between artist and publisher, starting in 1977 and continuing for many years.

Although he worked for DC Comics, Peter Pan Records, National Lampoon and Warren Publishing, he is chiefly known for his painted covers of Marvel magazines during the 1970s and 1980s.  His many credits include Crazy Magazine, Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu, The Hulk, Planet of the Apes, Savage Sword of Conan, The Tomb of Dracula, Spider Man, The Punisher, Vampirella, Creepy, Eerie and more.

As well as his Doc Savage work, he produced other covers for Bantam Books as well as Ace Books, Simon & Schuster, Random House and Penguin.  He also created film posters for the likes of Columbia Pictures, Universal, New Line Cinema and Troma.

He continues to paint.

A partial list of Bob Larkin's artwork can be found here

Camera Viscera
Bob Larkin: The Illustrated Man


  1. There's a site dedicated to Bob Larkin in my bloglist, should you be interested.

    1. I've just been reminded (by looking through them) that my copies of POTA and Dracula Lives (they both came out on the same day) still have their posters, unremoved since first stapled in all those years ago. I might carefully remove them and make duplicates, then stick the originals back in again.

    2. That sounds like a great idea - and blog them too!